Found on the evocatively named ‘Golden Mile’, the posh avenue that links Southern Spain’s iconic resort town with its swanky Puerto Banús super-yacht marina, the Hotel Puente Romano has been part of Marbella’s elite social scene for generations. It is like a small, whitewashed Andalusian village, set amongst sub tropical gardens, with front line sea views of the Mediterranean.
Now this classic property is back in the spotlight after a multi-million euro remodel and re-launch. So of course, we went to take a look.
It is undeniable that over the years, much like Marbella itself, the Hotel began to lose its lustre; public spaces and guest rooms began to look as if caught in a time warp. There’s a time where classic elegance can easily become ‘seen better days’ and a few years ago, the Puente Romano was getting dangerously close.
Then, just as Marbella has enjoyed a remarkable renaissance, so too has this beachside hotel. Renewed energy from the hotel direction, and fresh talent has given the property a new lease of life for the 21st Century.
The re-branding of the property to the ‘Puente Romano Beach Resort & Spa’ is more than a new logo, and a fresh lick of paint – it’s the fruits of an on-going significant investment programme, the evidence of which was still visible during my stay. New signature, destination dining; a Six Senses Spa; remodelled, upgraded guest rooms & suites; and upscale public areas are now all part of the new Puente Romano Beach Resort experience.
The positive changes are evident as soon as one arrives at this Leading Hotels of the World property. The reception has a bright, more contemporary feel, with complimentary Nespresso coffee, refreshments and chilled water for arriving guests. Yet somethings haven’t changed, and the hotel prides itself on its staff; a team that includes members who have been part of the hotel’s story for generations.
I was greeted by a gentleman at reception who had been with the hotel for many years, and provided a warm and friendly welcome. I was also offered a card, an invitation to a complimentary lunch at the resort’s beautiful ‘Sea Grill’ restaurant on the beach. A generous gesture offered since the hotel was still undergoing renovations and parts of the expansive grounds were affected by some noise disturbance from contractors.
I wasn’t escorted to my room, but offered a map of the grounds and a detailed explanation on how to get to the right block. The Puente Romano Beach Resort & Spa is spread out like a small village with guest rooms and suites distributed across a number of small, low rise blocks built in a rustic, style – each named after an iconic part of Andalucia.
My room was on the first floor in the Nerja block; classic Andalusian terracotta pots of geraniums and flowers decorated the outside whilst classic Iberian tiles displayed the room number. Yet once inside things were most definitely shiny and new.
I was staying in one of the hotel’s newly remodelled Junior Suites. The style is contemporary and light. White walls are the backdrop for vibrant art; blond woodwork and a white screen allow the furnishings to be the source of colour and warmth. Furniture is classic in style with contemporary, slightly bling touches, such as mirrored glass night stands and chest of drawers. The seating area included a sofa, and chair. Glass doors opened out onto a large terrace balcony.
The welcome amenity for the suite included a bottle of Andalusian sherry, as well as a beautifully presented bottle of Spanish olive oil, carrying the new Puente Romano branding.
The new approach to guest accommodation has gone beyond the new beds, embroidered linens, and furnishings. There is on-trend in-room technology including a large, high definition TV and a tablet, preloaded with information and interactive content relating to the resort, its facilities and dining options.
Thoughtful design touches had extended to adding auto-lighting in the wardrobes, and night lighting in the room. The room safe is a good size and the mini bar well stocked together with a choice of glass wear for different drinks – small detail thats I really like in a 5 star hotel.
The well-appointed bathroom was of pale, matt marble, with twin Villeroy & Boch wash basins and a bath tub with spa feature and integrated mood lighting. The double, walk-in shower had rainforest and hand attachment, whilst the W.C. featured one of these Japanese electric loo seats that does more than you can imagine – all controlled from a remote!
Bath amenities were a favourite of mine – Aromatherapy Associates.
The room had clearly recently been completed and the contractors needed to attend to a few small snagging issues, such a faulty bathroom extractor, and a loose towel rail. Small details, but in a 5 star resort undergoing an expensive re-launch, attention to them will make all the difference.
Turndown was offered, so returning from dinner I found the room tidied, towels replaced, and classy Solan de Cabras mineral water placed by the bed with chocolates and a small card of prose left on the mattress.
This is where much of the magic happens at the new Puente Romano Beach Resort & Spa. The property’s Sea Grill restaurant was one of the first places to benefit from the major remodelling programme. The large lounge restaurant space is integrated with one of the resorts pools, and overlooks the Mediterranean. Design is by the Andrew Martin interior design company, with plenty of striking details and thoughtful reference to the view and natural light with which the building is blessed.
It’s a glorious place to enjoy drinks or a bite to eat; so it was a real pleasure to enjoy the Sea Grill signature buffet lunch. It was winter when I visited but remember this is Marbella and I was fortunate with Andalusian weather that meant lunch was served outside on the terrace.
The team are friendly and helpful. Some might find the style informal for a 5 star hotel, but one has to realise that this is Southern Spain and people have a natural warmth and personality. Also, many have worked here for years, so it is like a big family, so expect at times some jokey behaviour, laughter and informality. I noticed that the team did ‘read’ the guests and were more reserved with those that were formal and then in turn more familiar with tables that were relaxed – but either way don’t expect the highly structured service one might find in the international hotel brands.
Thomas Stork, named Best Chef in Andalucía, at the Andalucian Gastronomy Awards, is the Executive Chef of the Hotel Puente Romano. The food offering at Sea Grill can be a very sophisticated affair or a relaxed snack. The buffet lunch was generous and above all fresh – and served with those views, it was truly satisfying.
I went for a late afternoon jog along the ‘paseo’; the beautiful promenade walkway that runs in front of the hotel, connecting Marbella with Puerto Banús. It’s a fabulous public space for cyclists, runners, and people just wanting to enjoy a stroll. It’s also a great way to build an appetite for dinner!
One of the reason’s the Puente Romano Beach Resort is now back on the map, is thanks to its delicious new approach to hotel dining; Plaza Village.
Surrounding a sheltered Andalusian courtyard patio, next to the original Roman Bridge which gives the hotel its name, are a choice of destination restaurants and even a nightclub.
Classic options include ‘Serafin’ an Italian restaurant created by Marco & Carlo Morelli, ‘Thai Gallery’, an established favourite in Marbella, and ‘Del Mar’, the Beach Club all-day restaurant.
The latest addition is the international restaurant ‘Uni’, offering Peruvian and Japanese fusion cuisine, Nikkei.
Dani Garcia, the acclaimed Malaga chef, has his signature ‘Cocina ConTradicion’ restaurant here too – with two Michelin stars!
We had dinner at ‘Bibo’, a contemporary, yet homely brasserie by Dani Garcia.
It’s his take on modern tapas and sharing plates. We allowed the team to order for us, a chance for Bibo to showcase some its more popular dishes. To start we tried the delicious Guaca-peas dip (would loved to have had that with fresh, homemade nachos), and the raw vegetable crudités on ice.
The very tasty sharing plates that followed included Robuchon prawns, cuttlefish croquettes and little oxtail brioche burgers, as well as an imaginatively presented fried seabass.
The food at Bibo isn’t stand-out, unique like the Michelin cuisine of its neighbour but it’s appetising, tasty and imaginatively presented and served by a friendly team – and the brasserie had a great atmosphere; perfect place to eat with friends.
In fact, Plaza Village thanks to its diverse eateries and even a nightclub, has a vibrant ambience that continues into after dinner drinks and then dancing. This gastronomic destination is most definitely one of the unique features of the new Puente Romano Bach Resort and Spa.
Rest of the Hotel
The property certainly has a resort feel; with three outdoor pools, lush botanical gardens, and exceptional facilities such as the Puente Romano Beach Resort & Spa Marbella Tennis Club. Originally managed by tennis ace Bjorn Borg and later, Wimbledon Champion Manolo Santana, the club is also home to world-class music concerts during the summer. The club also has a fully-equipped gym.
For golf lovers, guests can enjoy complimentary green fees and shuttle service to the Marbella Club Golf Course 20 minutes away.
I didn’t get the chance to use the Six Senses Spa, but I can vouch for the setting which is wonderful, overlooking the Mediterranean.
Rooms start from €250/£180 per night based on two people sharing including breakfast, taxes and Wi-Fi.
Bulevar Príncipe Alfonso von Hohenlohe, s/n, 29602 Marbella, Málaga, Spain
Tel: +34 952 820 900